Reviewed by Niall Dunne
St James' record label, EMI, have re-released two of her classic albums from the last decade, 'Pray' (1998) and 'Worship God' (2002), as a double album. So essentially you get two reviews for the price of one! Starting with 'Pray', not having heard this the first time round, I was amazed to realise it's 10 years old. The outstanding production (courtesy of Tedd T) does not sound dated in the slightest. The other remarkable thing about the album is the songwriting, mostly by St James herself showing her real flair for melody. But the Rich Mullins song "Hold Me Jesus" is a particular highlight. She has reworked a classic but in a new and interesting way, that only serves to enhance the original song. 'Pray' is a great album. Broken and fragile in places, fierce and epic in others. Well worth a listen. 'Worship God' is quite a different story. This seems to be St James following in the footsteps of many Christian artists, who make a token "worship" album for commercial purposes. It's something I don't think I'll ever understand. The best tracks on the album are the ones written by herself, such as "Song Of Love" and "You", but I just can't give credit to middle-of-the-road versions of other people's worship songs. Matt Redman's "Let My Words Be Few" is, in my opinion, the best worship song of modern times, but this is probably the worst track on the album. So one artist, but two very different albums. One with tons of soul and grit and the other a boring and average attempt at being accessible to the Christian masses. We can only hope that Rebecca St James returns to what she is really good at.
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